Scene from Loon (WONDERHEADS)
Ben Franklin said nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. You'll note he left "finding a great show at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival" off that list, since there really are no guarantees at the Fringe.
At the same time, some returning favourites are usually safe bets - plan to buy tickets early if you want to see TJ Dawe (Medicine), Jem Rolls (Ten Starts and an End), Joseph Aragon's new show (Illuminati 3: The End of the World), Hot Thespian Action (Body Language), or the latest from Winnipeg Studio Theatre (Fresher, the Musical).
Here are ten other shows that might be under your radar, but that I'm betting will be worth your consideration:
1. Afterlives (Surreal SoReal Theatre - Venue 8): Edmonton playwright Jon Lachlan Stewart's highly physical and remarkably creative Big Shot was probably my favourite show of the festival last year. So this production from his company - featuring three wordless plays - is one I'm looking forward to. (Stewart also directs Guernica at Venue 6).
2. Airship (Femmes du Feu - Venue 13): As anyone who saw their 2010 Fringe hit The Plank knows, Toronto's Femmes du Feu do breathtaking aerial dance work in their shows.
3. The Courier (Who Knows Prod.) and Back To Berlin (Death & Taxes Theatre - Venue 27): Okay, this one's a "two-fer," but for good reason: both are written by Winnipeg native (and Governor General's Award-winning playwright) Vern Thiessen. The Courier, written in 1987, was his first play, and is performed this time by Toby Hughes (fresh from playing the lead in SIR's Henry V). Back to Berlin, a more recent play, is the companion piece to The Courier. Thiessen is a superb playwright, so the opportunity to see both plays is a rare Fringe treat.
4. Fishbowl (Mark Shyzer - Venue 3): Toronto's Mark Shyzer's one-man, four-character show works as a fantastic piece of character-based comedy - but is also much more. See my review from the Toronto Fringe here.